What settlers would miss

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What settlers would miss are a lot of things. Especially in the beginning of a colony on Mars the settlers have to face a whole lot of limitations. The new colony is small, little comfortable, and the recollection of life on Earth is strong. The settlers will automatically compare their old and their new life.

In case of a manned one-way mission the old life is unrecoverable gone, but the memory is still alive. Making Mars a new home requires some considerations about the things the settlers would miss.


... is dangerous and expensive. Probably the whole life of most settlers would be spent inside the local settlement. The settlers will have to work hard just to keep themselves alive, managing food and energy to make ends meet. Traveling around the planet would consume large amounts of energy, and the new colony can not afford this.

What might help here is a selection of settlers with respect to their personal disposition about traveling. A person who is not interested in traveling on Earth will have no problem with this constraint on Mars.

A second option may be to develop three colonies, all equal distance apart at the points of an equilateral triangle and allow the slow rotation of crew placements. Rotation within three colonies separated by a hundred kilometres with different landscapes could allow a relief to desires to travel. No doubt expeditions would also take place within the borders of the triangle for those with sufficient interest.

Alternatively, settlements may be designed to have highly differentiated areas, with each quarter having a distinctive signature that can create local appartenance and individuality. So traveling to exotic locales may not require very distant travel. It there are different settlement origins, there might be very individual aspects of each settlement. Travel on Mars may require less energy than the equivalent travel on Earth; this may depend on the distance required to reach ressources (water, minerals), that are often a powerful motivation for creating roads.

Blue sky

The Martian sky is red, which can hardly be changed. The coloring of the settlement's rooms can help to counteract the desire to see the familiar blue sky. Placing green plants in front of windows would assist in keeping spirits up. Eventually a second generation would consider the Martian sky normal. Artificial lighting can reproduce a large part of the optical spectrum of true Earth sunlight. However, the very high energy required to reproduce Earth light may limit the availability of artificial sunlight.high intensity lighting The use of strong lights in public areas may be obligatory for the proper development of eyesight. Use of high intensity lighting to combat depression (luminotherapy) is a growing trend in Northern countries.

Forest, sea, meadow,

... and sunshine on the skin, fresh air, stiff breeze. Feeling the nature throughout all seasons, especially in spring time, is just great.

Wild nature can hardly be placed in a Martian colony. Like in Biosphere 2 some parts can be implemented in large greenhouses. Trees are hardly to grow in a regular greenhouse. Although the effort to build greenhouses with a height of more than 10 meters is disproportional high, it might be worth.

Large greenhouses are necessary anyway. The combination of greenhouse area and living area in the settlement may have a comforting effect on human beings.

For large trees, one option would be to utilise long and deep trenches with a long rectangular roof structure. This would minimise cost and could allow a sub-surface colony to face directly into a long passage with fast growing trees.

Parks are not the same as greenhouses. The ideal conditions for plants are often not the best for humans. So a community might invest in Parks.


... consume much food, and food is rare on Mars. Horses, dogs and other big pets are impossible in an early colony. Possibly, the settlers can afford some small herbivores as pets.

No doubt an important goal for any colony would be to develop an emergency 'sperm and seed ark' should disaster strike the Earth. In time animal surrogacy could enable such a facility to provide Mars with a variety of animals as the need arose.

Meeting new people

... will occur maybe once in a decade, when new settlers from Earth arrive. Seeing the same faces day by day may pose psychic problems. Access to the terrestrial internet and regular video messages might be of high value. Rotation of crews amongst other colonies will eventually alleviate this problem.

Alternatively, a different Mars settlement can be envisioned where most of the population growth is from immigration. In such a case, there would be an influx of new people every synod (two years). The Internet will have limited value because of the high latency of the messages, from 4 to over 30 minutes between replies. If self sufficiency is an objective, then the settlement is likely to grow fairly fast to populations in the thousands and tens of thousands to be able to have all the required skills in the colony population.

Technological Progress

Surely there will be technological progress in an independent Martian colony, but it will be much slower than on Earth. Why is that? The number of simultaneously working engineers on Earth exceeds the number of Martian settlers by many orders of magnitude. The economical power and, therefore, manpower of high profit industries on Earth yields the breathtaking progress in information technology, genetic modification, medical, etc. The Martian colony can benefit from the terrestrial progress on an informational basis, but hardware must be built in-situ, which depends on local high-tech industries. So, probably, the Martian settlers will watch a growing technological basis on Earth which they can participate only a small deal. Growing disproportions may have a depressing effect on the settler's morale.

But there will certainly be progress on another frontier: The settlers will develop their own technology with a different focus. Also, they might develop a different society with different social concepts. Many terrestrial problems (unemployment, social imbalance, tax injustice) may not be present on Mars. All this might be a perfect compensation.

Alternatively, the Martian population may represent a very high density of highly educated and motivated people. This may lead to a very high invention rate per capita, in particular as the gain from an invention on Mars may be very high due to high differential cost of transportation. If transportation is prequent, then there will be a continuous influx of innovations. In particular every synod will probably bring computer equipment that is equivalent to most of the equipment already in place on Mars. Importation of high value items could allow the colony to keep up with the Earth. In facto one of the attractions of a martian settlement may be the high technological level maintained there


... and all the nice kickshaw.

See also